Archive for the ‘Philosophy’ Category

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THE PAST LIFE EXPERIMENT

There are times when I look at my life and wonder, “How did I arrive at this point?” I look at my art, music, and writing as being like the remains of some lost civilization, and I am the archaeologist unearthing them. What inspired me to create these things? What motivated me? What is the relevance of my work? Where is it going? What is it all leading to?

These are some of the questions I hope to answer in The Past Life Experiment. During the course of this project, I will revisit my past and explore my motivations along the path that brought me here.

This soul-searching extends beyond the scope of my various crafts and lies at the heart of what my identity has come to mean to me. This experiment is my attempt to join memory with forward motion. This is my attempt to remember before I forget…

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I have seen the future.  It comes to me in my dreams.  Here, I can view my life being played out like a movie.  A surprisingly short movie.  I come here to re-live moments of the past, re-acquaint myself with forgotten memories, and to study the course of my life.  From this vantage point, I can see the whole of my life, all of the great moments and acquisition of knowledge and experience, all of the crests and troughs, the moments of tragedy.  In this place, I can see the interconnectivity of how my path is woven together with others.  The winding channels of lifelines intersecting at pivotal and significant moments.  I can chart the course of how a simple seed of thought is planted, and how it sprouts and blossoms to give birth to other thoughts which determine directions and outcomes later on.  How people can exchange ideas and affect the consciousness of large groups of people.  I can see my role clearly and how it meshes with the greater scheme of existence.  How we are all one.  This is a timeless place, and I feel very safe here.  It is as if I have all of the answers to my questions or, rather, that there are no more questions. 

            I decide to engage myself in the game again.  It’s just too intriguing to not participate.  I know what the consequences will be for playing again, but that’s part of the thrill of the experience.  Like a treasure hunt, you never know what gems you’ll end up uncovering.  But it’s all about the journey.  Of course I understand this concept here and now.  It’s a whole different story when I’m actually immersed in the game. 

            I go through the traumatic process of being birthed by the parents of my choosing.  I remember most of this while in the womb, but being born into the world is so hyperstimulating that I quickly forget my origins and become engrossed in all of the worldly distractions.

            Now I am a child wandering through a marshy field of tall grass.  I am alone, and don’t have many friends.  I’ve always been kind of a loner.  I walk through this field wondering how long it will be before we have to move again. I’m not sure about my life or the future.  It seems like I’m always fearful of something, but not being outside.  I like being out here, exploring.  I don’t care if other people had been here; I wanted to see things for myself, walking the lands.

            Now I am a little older, on stage at a high school band performance.  I finally feel confident enough about playing music that I don’t feel like an imposter anymore.  I command the instrument I’m playing with all the knowledge and sensitivity of my training.  I feel the emotional rise as I contribute my part to a greater piece of music.  I can hear the interconnectivity of the performers all adding their voices to the symphony, their instruments perfect extensions of their souls.

            I travel to my first kiss, and the thrill of being liked by someone.  I can feel the interconnectivity between us as we kiss and explore each other.  I think, this is pretty great…this life seems worth it

            Now I’m in another relationship and we’re fighting.  I have seen parts of her that I don’t like, and even worse, she’s seen some of my ugliness.  I know that things won’t ever be the same between us and I can’t seem to see past a post-breakup life with her.  I ask myself, is this what life is all about?  A series of risks and longshots where nobody really knows the outcomes, or don’t put their energy into the outcomes they want?

            I’m at graduation and it’s like I’m standing on the sidelines watching the whole event take place in fast forward.  I never honestly ever thought of graduating from high school as a reality.  It always teetered on the edge of conceptual thought for me, but here I am.  I guess it was worth it.

            Now I am at a jobsite trying to learn how to strip and wax floors.  I am frustrated and scared that I will be fired for not knowing how to do the job.  It seems that everything that I touch falls apart.  I’m pretty insecure about joining the workforce, but my parents are kicking me out so I have to do something for money.  I wonder, not for the first time, why I have the parents I have.  They’re not very supportive, and it doesn’t seem like they understand me.

            Now I’m in my first apartment.  I’ve just paid my bills and went grocery shopping.  My belly is full and I drift off to sleep easily knowing that I’m taken care of.  My parents were hard on me, but now I’m on my own and I like it.  If life only gets this bad, then I can probably survive like this.

            After a series of job changes and relationships, I finally end up living and working in the city.  My body is noticeably ageing.  Even though I knew this was coming, I always looked at getting older like my graduation day; more of a concept.  I see the people that I used to think were old and wonder about their youth and the trials that brought them along their paths.  I am humbled by the experience of getting older.  The days and months fly by with uncanny speed.

Future

            I am at my niece’s graduation, and all kinds of memories flood back and I realize that I am envious of her youth, just as my elders were envious of my youth in my day.  But now this is her day.  There are so many things that I want to tell her to encourage her, but I know she’ll probably forget it all in the whirlwind of ceremonies and parties.  I realize that one of my biggest fears is losing all of my essence to death.  All of the gathered knowledge and cultivated personality that makes up the character of me.  It terrifies me to think of having to go through it all again.

            I realize that the older I get and the more knowledge I acquire, there is yet other information that quietly slips away.  There are some cherished memories, long-lost loves, forgotten friends that fall by the wayside.  I, not for the first time, regret some of the ways that I hurt others in the past, or wasn’t there, or wished I would’ve done things differently.  Life is to me like a bittersweet lover, both intoxicating and ruinous, teasing me along this path until I die.

            Throughout my life I accomplish many things, there are plenty of obstacles, loves, losses, many revelations, forgotten brilliance, and a good amount of intrigue for good or ill.

            In my final moment of death, I remember that I was the one who elected to play this game, and I remember why I keep coming back to it.  Everything was so rich in value, the good and bad.  To have the ability to sense so much, to feel so many emotions, it was so engulfing that I forgot that I was playing a game.  I slip into death much as I came into the world, and I pass back into the obscurity of the cosmic consciousness, able to rest once again.

 

           tunnel1

One of my favorite shows to watch is Lost.  My relationship with the show has become disenchanted somewhat (perhaps to the point of a loveless marriage), but the first season really spoke to me.  One aspect that I really like about the show, is how these survivors of a plane crash all had their lives previous to the crash, but once they are trapped on this island with each other, they can choose to lead any kind of life they want.  Characters are challenged to overcome the ghosts from their prior lives and often transcend their fears and weaknesses. 

            Aside from the theme of redemption, I think it is exceptional that the show illustrates the potential for a broad range of human behavior. Through all of the situations these survivors are put into, heroes become villains, villains become heroes, and so forth.  The audience gets a glimpse into the sorted affairs of these characters’ past lives and gets to see exactly where they’ve come from and how much the plane crash has changed them for better or worse.

            The older I get and the more of life that I experience, I realize that I too am capable of behaviors that I might deem unsavory even by the standards of my own moral compass.  Unscrupulous deeds that I would normally denounce, I am finding that I have the tendencies for, or at least find myself on the threshold of choices that test my ethics to the very core.   

Are the values that I have integrated into my life constantly up for revision, or is life such a complex dance that I must engage in the dance to discern what I believe in?

            If Lost has illustrated anything to me, it has shown me that anyone is capable of pretty much anything given the right circumstances, and this includes me.  No matter how noble I would like to think of myself, no matter how self-righteous I may believe I am, I must admit to myself that I too am capable of much destruction if the right (or wrong) circumstances are present.  I would like to say that I am above such temptation, but if I am really honest with myself, I find that there is more grey in the world than black or white.

            Fortunately, I am not a victim to indiscretion; there is always a choice.  Even in the throes of deepest iniquity, I must decide whether I will give in to my lower impulses, or remain an agent of that which is virtuous and sanguine.  The crazy thing is that the temptation never really goes away, nor does the testing of one‘s beliefs.  By the simple act of existence, a belief system must be tested in the arena of life to validate it.

            The question is: Will I have the capacity to transform my failures into successes?

CRYSTALLIZED EGOS

Posted: June 10, 2013 in Philosophy

            CrystalsThe quest for identity, I believe, is one of the most fundamental concerns of a human life.  I think that most people want to get their minds wrapped around who they are.  Everybody wants to belong to something in some way or form.  People tend to identify with myths that speak to them and iconography that inspires them.  We then incorporate these ideas into our own lives, grafting them into our own personalities, spawning new visions of reality in an ever-evolving multiplicity of beliefs.

            Why ever meet anyone new?  Why challenge ourselves with the beliefs and complexities of another person?  Why not just surround ourselves with a plethora of cherished followers who always agree with our point of view?

            We are so quick to decide just exactly who we are, our likes and dislikes, passions and prejudices, often basing these ideas from pre-established myths.  By rushing to define ourselves, we cease truly being open-minded and become rigid in our personalities.  It is this hardening of our identities that I like to call the ‘crystallized ego.‘  Much in the same way that crystals form from a liquid substance or the way that stalactites and icicles are formed, our substance becomes something adamantine.  We move from being open to receive and experience new horizons to essentially sheltering ourselves from that which we fear or don’t understand. 

            Is there a way to accept others’ beliefs without threatening the integrity of our own beliefs?  In the grandeur of this cosmic game we’re playing with ourselves, we forget that we are all one.  It is through others that we are able to see ourselves more clearly.  It is good to challenge our belief systems continuously to validate them and see their dynamics working in our lives.  Why not show self-security through tolerance and acceptance?  After all…there is a place in this Universe for everybody.

Life: what a wild ride! Looking back, I never thought I would’ve ended up here; looking forward, I realize I’m exactly where I should be. As I enter into this new phase of my life, I thought it appropriate to re-introduce my blog into the fray. For those few who have kept up with my little blogging experiment, the name ‘Bonesmuggler’s Beatery’ should ring a bell. Those early pages chronicled my observations of life as one part personal journal, two parts ranting social commentary, and a pinch of verbose dexterity tossed in for good measure.

A blog is good for many things, if only to give oneself a bit of a bullhorn aimed at the rest of the world. Well here I am (again)! I will once again add my voice to the cacophony screaming for attention (over here…listen to me…yes! Me!). I suppose I do have more observations of the weird world we live in, as well as some unfinished business to tend to. I yearn for the narrative to continue; I crave the spinning yarn that I began six years ago with ‘Bonesmuggler’s Beatery.’ But why am I calling my new blog ‘Chadstract’s Beat?’

The simplest explanation is that I needed an easier way for people to associate my blog to me. ‘Bonesmuggler’s Beatery’ didn’t exactly garner any name recognition towards the Chadstract.com mission. The Bonesmuggler handle actually sprouted from a very obscure inside joke between me and a few friends, but other than that, the name had little-to-no relevance towards my writing.

As far as ‘Beatery’ is concerned, the word ‘beat’ has had multiple significance for me. Beat signifies my reporting territory or terrain. It also implies rhythm; I march to the beat of my own drum. Beat is an homage to one of my literary heroes, Jack Kerouac, who is credited as being the “King of the Beatniks.” The word beat means beat-down, tired, but Kerouac attributed beat as a short form of the word beatific.

So this latest incarnation of my thoughts and feelings put into words will take the form of ‘Chadstract’s Beat.’ Here, I will continue my long-running narrative of the world I see, and delve into new territories. This blog will be the hub of my writing platform. It will complement my website Chadstract.com, my niche in the morass that is the Internet. My blog may not always be Shakespearian, but it will be a glimpse into a life–my life in words. And the best part about it is that this is just the beginning…

Life or Something Like It…

Posted: May 23, 2008 in Philosophy

Life is the great struggle. From the time we are born until the time we are destined to die, this living experience, the Great Game is one long (or sometimes short) push/pull to the end. Sure, there are brief respites, breaks, and pauses, but they are never enduring. It is like a mountain climber scaling a challenging rock face, creeping from hand-hold to hand-hold until finding a suitable ledge to rest on, and this repose lasting only long enough to gather strength for the next great climb upward. For that is the direction that everyone struggles to move through life: upwards.

This pattern is self-evident throughout nature. Seeds must endure the hardships of winter, sometimes lying dormant for years before they germinate, defying gravity with their slow march towards the sunlight. Chicks must naturally beak their way out of the eggshells that they are entombed in to earn their place in the grand “pecking” order. River fish make the exhaustive swim upstream in order to spawn, proving their will to live and to live on through the succession of their offspring. Call it “survival of the fittest,” or evolution, or competitive spirit, whatever the case, we all want to be on top.

The problem is that we think that we want to always remain on top. Think about it. How boring, how predictable life would be if we had no challenges to take us to the next level. What if we had all of the answers before us in nice little pre-fabricated constructs, so that we would never have to think or ponder? If this were the case, why even go through the motions of life, dance the dance, experiencing only a wholly conventional life?

This is the essence of why we enter into life: to experience the pain with the pleasure, the loss as well as the gain, the unpredictable exhilaration that comes from this great struggle.

Life shouldn’t be all about suffering either. If you can imagine life as a series of waves, some crashing, some gently lapping, waxing and waning with the pull of the tides. Waves have crests and troughs. You can’t have one without the other. They must co-exist to exist at all. If you are surfing these waves, there will be times when you fall beneath the water and have to pick yourself up again. There will also be times when you are carried triumphantly atop the wave, and you can enjoy the thrill of the ride. It is by experiencing the times of “without” that we learn to truly appreciate the times of abundance. In the meantime, enjoy the interims of peace and triumph amidst the demanding effort that living requires, and don’t forget to relish the struggle.